PHNOM PENH, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- About 800 Cambodian villagers were evacuated to a safe refuge on Tuesday, as experts began an operation to remove two U.S. tear gas barrel bombs left from the Vietnam war era, an operation leader said.
The two chemical bombs, containing 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile (CS), a type of tear gas, were dropped from a U.S. warplane during the Vietnam war a half-century ago, Lt. Gen. Ke Da, deputy secretary general of the Cambodian Defense Ministry's anti-chemical weapons authority, said.
He added that the bombs, weighing more than 200 kg each, were found under the ground in the complexes of a primary school and a pagoda in Koki village in southeast Cambodia's Svay Rieng province in January this year.
"A group of 50 experts from the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) and the anti-chemical weapons authority started to remove the bombs today (Tuesday), and it is expected to take about 10 days to dispose them," Gen. Ke Da told Xinhua via telephone.
"a total of 214 families with about 800 people living around the bomb sites are evacuated every day between 7:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. until the disposal operation is completed," he said.
According to Gen. Ke Da, the chemical bombs were very harmful to people's health, and if the chemical leaks out, it will cause burning eyes, coughing, breathing difficulty, stinging skin, vomiting, and cancer.
Cambodia is one of the countries that suffer worst from mines and unexploded ordnances (UXOs) as a result of three decades of war and internal conflicts. An estimated 4 to 6 million landmines and other munitions left over from the conflicts.
According to CMAC, between 1965 and 1973, the United States dropped about 2.7 million tons of explosives on 113,716 locations in Cambodia.
The government figures showed that from 1979 to June 2017, landmines and UXOs had killed 19,754 people and either injured or amputated 44,940 others.